Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Visual Shopping

Alfons showed me a site called Love the whole concept of visual shopping and appreciate what they were trying to do from a user experience perspective. Practically speaking though, doubt I would use it for too long. The cost of my time compared to the benefit of the visual shopping execution just didn’t seem worth it.

It's just in beta though so it will be interesting to watch.

Truth, Lies and Mathematics

Ever since I had Ms. Scolnic in grade 11, I have hated math (those of you who went to York Mills CI in Toronto know what I am talking about here). And yet, my career has been filled with having to understand, work with and yes, even manipulate numbers.

Back in the day, I did a study for the implementation of environmental assessment in Greece for the EU and got to assess over 50 cost benefit analysis models. The reason I never pulled my hair out was that I realized that math had nothing to do with it. In fact, most of the time I was reading very well constructed fiction that expressed itself in numbers.

Found through askthevc, Scott Maxwell gives his 10 best ways to lie with metrics. My top 3 of his top 10:

- Gather a lot of metrics and then only present the metrics that are positive
- Use extremely precise numbers
- Hire a graphic designer to turn your metrics into really good looking charts

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Lessons From Ning

The day you start to do product development based on what the last potential investor said to you is the day you need to take a step back and remember why you created your invention in the first place.

What a great post from Gina Bianchini of Ning about their lessons learned in the past two years.

Great insight and some lessons I have bumped into most recently. If you are an entrepreneur or thinking about starting a technology company, go read the post and print it out and post it above your desk. You won't believe how easy the simple rules are to forget.

Most Clubs Are For Losers

Via WebTeacher:

Kottke had some interesting stats about the lack of gender diversity at Web conferences. The debate rages on with opinions on both sides.

Anil Dash weighed in with his posting called the boys club is for losers and noted that many of the comments on the Kottke site from the conference organizers ended up being really defensive. In response Anil said something that I think no woman would ever have the chutzpa to say:

“Guys are almost always unable to see the barriers they construct.”

I think most 'exclusive' clubs are for losers, and not just the boys clubs. The Web has always been the anti-thesis of that. Open, collaborative, diverse. It’s what I love about it. Where rules are made to be broken and where the very dna of the network is constructed to go around obstructions.

Hopefully at some point (and maybe the tides are already turning this way) the business of technology will to take some lessons from its very own network.

update: Anil wrote a second post on the subject - I think he's officially pissed (in a good way)!

Thursday, 22 February 2007

The Burgeoning Micro-Documentary Market

Documentary film has always been a powerful cinematic genre that attempts to catch "life as it is". With the advent of digital video, and now YouTube, the market is opening up for documentary films to translate our insights about the world around us into compelling and moving moments in less than 10 minutes. See this YouTube video found via Chris Griffen. Chris talks about how video makes our ideas more compelling. To me it is also the opening up of a huge micro-documentary market that is only beginning to challenge our thoughts and change our thinking.

The Drill Vs. The Hole: Research vs. Insights Part Deux

Love when examples come so closely after I have a posting about something. I wrote about research departments needing to focus on insights and the whys the other day and here is a perfect example. Don Tapscott. Mark Evans had a post yesterday post talking about Don's 3.5 million dollar research project on Young People and The Web. Mark paraphrases Don's talk which had this research result:

"[young people] don’t see the Web as a great technology as much as a tool to be used - much like we never saw the remote control was nothing more complicated than a tool to change channels."

You gotta wonder how the research was crafted to come out with that completely sophomoric insight. Here's my guess:

do you see the Web as:
a. technology
b. network
c. portal
d. tool to do things

Personally, I would take someone who could be insightful based on a multitude of various research studies any day of the week.

Case and point, Chris Garrett . On Mark's blog he wrote what I thought was a very insightful comment (including the part where he agreed with me ;-)

"from the younger people I have contact with I have to conclude they don’t see technology as the rest of us older folk do. It’s transparent, every day, mundane, and non-compartmentalized. We think “I will get my phone and SMS so-and-so”, they are just doing what they do. They only notice the technology when it’s not there for some reason.

We see the drill, they see the hole in the wall"

update: Mike Dover from New Paradigm Research has clarified Don's research in the comments

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Want To Know What The Kids Are Thinking?

I had posted about Club Penguin a while back and linked to a posting that familywebwatch has on the subject. A really interesting thing has been happening on that post. There has been a conversation going on between the kids and the adults on if Club Penguin is a good or bad thing (32 comments in all).

I am amazed (and yet not really amazed at all having one smart 11 year old daughter) at the articulate and well thought out comments that the kids are making. It is a fascinating conversation to watch. It's been mostly respectful, very informative and I think worth everyone's while to go and check it out.

The Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Research Department Rainbow

One of, I guess you could call it my specialties, in my consulting practice, is going through piles and piles of client research. So often the research departments (or the myriad of different names for them including marketing intelligence, customer knowledge etc.) are almost like libraries within corporations; Vast knowledge centres that are rarely used except by a few. Here are some of my thoughts as to how to get your research department greater utilization within your organization:

1. Make the research department PART OF the marketing planning process

- they should be brought in at the earliest stages rather than after the fact to validate or invalidate marketing’s assumptions

2. Research depts should morph into being the active voice of the customer/general public
- if companies want to be more consumer centric they need to bring that consumer into the discussion at the earliest stages

3. The consumers voice needs to be heard

- my philosophy is this: research departments need to become the advocate for the consumer. As the consumer advocate, sometimes they need to raise their voices to be heard. Give the customer goal a fighting chance against the business goal if they aren't in alignment

4. If the research isn't actionable, don't do it
- too much money is wasted on research that no one reads and that no one can do anything with

5. Tell them what it MEANS...answer the question WHY
- too often research is about facts rather than insights. Marketing teams need help to interpret and understanding the underlying reasons behind trends rather than just knowing the trends themselves

6. Hire insight planners
- with all the money you will save on your new philosophy of actionable research you can hire some insight planners whose jobs are to not only synthesize but analyze and get at the underlying why's

7. Learn how to present the research in a way that someone will care
- if i find something in the research that is powerful, let's say a simple market share percentage change that shocked me, i spend a great deal of time crafting the way I present that info. It's about the drama factor and it is so crucial if you want anyone to care

8. A question well asked if half answered
- spend time thinking about what you want answers for. It is often the most basic and most important questions that don't get asked until too late in the process. Take the time to do the head hurting work up front and you will get rewarded in the end

9. Context matters
- give your research department the overall context to your questions. If you ask if your customers like the colour blue the only answer you will get is yes or no. But if you tell your research department that you are trying to understand the changing trends in colours and your concern that your focus on blue may not be the right way to go, you are going to get a rich analysis that may even inform you that colour isn't the issue at all but something completely different!

10. Don't take no for an answer

- the amount of times I am told that a client doesn't really have that much research only to later find that there were actually rooms (seriously, literally rooms) filled to the brim with incredible and rich information just waiting to become actionable insights

One last thought? If you do nothing else today, go and make friends with the head of research. You just can't imagine the pot of gold you are going to find at the end of that rainbow.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

The Problem With Building Your Digital House On Someone Else’s Virtual Property Is...

That you don't own it. Check out what happened to this younggogetter whose myspace got up and went!

"My profile was recently deleted by “Tom”. I wasn’t spamming with shady porn embedded links, or phishing for private information… I was “social networking”.

Well, that's what he gets for using the site to, well use the site. Guess all you can really do for now is read the fine print until you find a way to own your own plot of virtual land....

Monday, 19 February 2007

The Solution To The Global Warming Flooding Issue

From undeniable facts:

“If all the whales were suddenly removed from the ocean, the water level would drop by almost 30 feet.”

Now who do we think will be the first politician to suggest that rather than saving the whales, we need to get rid of them to save ourselves?

My bets are that once Senetor Ted Stevens has solved the problems with the Internet, he will move on to solve the problems of global warming and the 'remove the whales' strategy becomes his key platform. Hey, here's a thought, maybe he could put the whales into tubes?

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Our DNA, Google & The Masterplan

A number of years back, I had read the copywrite application submitted by Canadian artist Marilyn Donahue in Harpers Magazine. She had copywrited her own DNA and has created a website to teach other people how to do it simply. In her own words:

"After discovering that the entire country of Iceland had given up their medical database (their medical privacy) to a drug company, I decided I wanted to create a work that would attempt to protect our own DNA."

Is she just paranoid? Check this short film giving one potential future scenario of how our networked world and the power of Google could affect even our DNA found via


Thursday, 15 February 2007

If Lawyers Were Copy Writers

It would sound something exactly like this...(make sure you go to Johnathan Schwartz key note to hear what i am talking about...)

Radiators Have Gotten Cool

Doing some renos right now. The house has got old rads and we have to replace and move some of the around. Who knew how cool some of the latest designs are in radiators?

This one is from Eos Design. Stainless steel and very funky.

But this one takes the cake. It's a rad/wall art. They call it 'design that keeps you warm' found here.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Men Vs. Women Entrepreneurs: The Men Apparently Are More *co*&gh* *gag* Emotional

Accroding to Bat Batjargal (hat tip to Ben Casnocha via Jenny Slade), a lecturer at Harvard, men are more emotional than women entreprenuers. He says:

“Women have larger social networks for advice and resources. But men, surprisingly, have larger "emotional" networks - the complex of associations that provide warmth, praise, and encouragement. And men apparently profit more from these emotional attachments than women do.

"This is probably the most surprising, counterintuitive finding of this research," said Batjargal. "Men can be very emotional, and they use these emotional ties better than women do."

Now lets think about this for a minute. You are a female entrepreneur. Let's say in Tech. There are how many of you out there? And it's a pretty male dominated world. Most of the VCs are male. Haven't connected with one Angel female to speak of yet. The one woman who I did connect with early on for funding opportunities was a dismissive, 'i got five seconds for you to tell me why i should care even though I am on panels all the time talking about women supporting each other in business'.

Our biggest challenge is to been seen as smart, as driven and to be taken seriously. We don’t want to be perceived as weak, as needy and too emotional to make the difficult business trek that is being an entrepreneur.

Ironically, Batjargal speculated that "women network for the sake of relationships, and men for utility."

Maybe as women we do need to rethink our networks, how we build them, how we develop them and how we use them. But I think it’s less as one person concluded that "women need to learn how to network like men" and more that women need to learn how to network like women.

*update: i blog cheated (is that allowed?) and re-edited the post. See, I am such a chick!

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

I Think I Am Worried About The Death of Newspapers

A number of people who I read regularly have been blogging about the coming death of traditional news media. On Mathew Ingram's site, he recently had a posting and a quote from Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman and publisher of the New York Times that I thought was worth repeating,

“Given the constant erosion of the printed press, do you see the New York Times still being printed in five years? “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either,” he says.”

So here’s the thing. I was listening to the CBC radio on the weekend and they had a piece about “spin, the spinners and the spun” produced by Ira Basen about in part the death of investigative journalism and the threat to democratic political systems.

I have to tell you, if you have the time, you have to listen or read about it. It really has got me thinking that we need to consider the repercussions of the death of old media.

They give a stat that Tony Blair’s party had about 300 what they call ‘spin doctor’s’ on his staff when he was elected, while he now has over 3000. Can you imagine this? And with the number of layoffs at newspapers and traditional media news outlets, what would be really interesting is to know the ratio of those communications people to the investigative journalists. And this all leaves a number of questions in my mind:

-Has our desire for 24.7 content forced a wave of shallow reporting?

-Is getting the info fast more important to us as readers than getting it right as the cbc piece suggests?

-Will models such as payperpost and the ability of the spin-doctors to buy a network of opinion impact more than just products and actually affect public opinion on controversial issues such as global warming, abortion or the war in Iraq?

-Once media companies realize they can’t afford to pay for investigative journalists and that no one seems to ‘care’, who will fill the role of being a watchdog for the public?

Well anyway, I would love to follow this more closely, go and get a whole bunch of divergent opinions, fact check ‘em and write a story about this but truthfully I don’t have the time. I am not a journalist. I am just a entrepreneur full time who impersonates a marketer part time and who makes the time in-between that to blog about the issues I care about.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Spammed By Marketers About Marketing

A while back I got on a list done by Kate for Canada's 1% blogging army (what Kate called the z list). Couple people mentioned it on their blogs great. And then the other day, I got an email that started off with this

"To various members of the Canada's 1% Blogging Army,

A cardinal rule of good word of mouth is to provide "social currency" - thus I wanted to drop you an exclusive note and let you be some of the first to know about..."

Now without exposing the person in question, (who is clearly smart although they have done what I consider a dumb thing)...I have to ask:

How seriously can i take an email that talks to me about marketing that essentially took a group of bloggers websites, got their email address and created a SPAM list?

And to add insult to injury, we weren't really the first to know anything as the email stated (there was already a posting on the persons website). And other than a marketing message asking us to consider blogging on the subject, there was no other added value to me, that might have lessened the annoyance.

So since the email talks about its cardinal rule, I thought I would also share mine. If you want me to listen to your marketing message don't piss me off. Putting me on a spam list = piss off.

Note for next time - if you want my support in your effort, email me personally. Sure I get why you didn’t. It’s more work. But build a relationship with me where I want to help you and get your message to my network. Anyway, better luck next time. :)

Women In Technology

Someone once wrote to me that they thought having a woman as oponias CTO was like seeing a King Penguin in the Arctic - very rare and very cool.

So why is it that it is such a rare occurrence? Vanessa pointed me to a great article that talks about the future of women in technology.

"Girls will have to be targeted as far back as the elementary school level if information technology is to see a greater representation of women in the years to come, according to many industry leaders and experts. "They do very well in math and science for a while, and then seem to lose interest," says Sandy Carter, vice president of SOA and WebSphere strategy at IBM. To keep young girls from giving up on math and science early, women in the industry will need to go back to their schools and mentor them. Mentorship is seen more as a long-term strategy for solving the problem..."It's going to take decades, but once you have that pipeline going, things will change for the better," says Cisco's Jayshree Ullal.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Agile Marketing

Apparently Ad Execs are surprised at the speed of change and are having trouble keeping up. Hum...maybe part of the problem is that they are less focused on innovating than following but I don't think the blame can be put squarely on them.

Now might be a good time for marketing departments to learn some lessons from programmers. The old models of software development have morphed and changed more than the communications industries models have from waterfall to agile.

Accroding to Wikipedia, some of the principles that comprise a manifesto behind Agile programming include:

* Customer satisfaction by rapid, continuous delivery of useful software
* Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
* Working software is the principal measure of progress.
* Even late changes in requirements are welcomed.
* Close, daily, cooperation between business people and developers
* Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication.
* Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
* Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
* Simplicity
* Self-organizing teams
* Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Tell me there aren't some lessons to be learned here. Bottom line, if clients continue to have arduous approval cycles and processes, it is virtually impossible to have even the most innovative fast as a speeding bullet ideas come to light in a timely manner.

Here's hoping for the birth of agile marketing and our own quick to market manifesto.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

New Product Idea

Electronic business cards. Now, now I know what you are thinking. We've seen those before and they are silly. But I am not talking about the mini screened put flash video on a display kinda card. It's more inspired by the post that Mark Evans had a while back on "long live the paper business card".

Ok enough confusing prelude. Here's the idea. A paper like looking business card with only one thing on it, a url, that can actually hyperlink to the web if a mouse is put on it.

Eric our hyper smart programmer looked at me quizzically when I suggested this to him. At first i think he was thinking, “you have no idea the way the Web works lady do you?” and on second hand he took a moment, sat back in his chair and said, "hum, i am sure we could figure out a way to do that with blue tooth and a button you could push that would open the Web browser to the url." That's what I like! Little problem solution....sure beats the mocking....;)

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Keeping Up With The Jones - Social Networking Style

Chris Kang the executive director of Schools Without Borders and I were having a discussion about his generation, the "Ys". Couple great insights came out of it for me.

Chris talked about a hyper Me2 syndrome that exists amongst his friends and said that myspaces really just was a "portal to hyper competitiveness".

Think about it. Now you are networked 24/7 with everyone you have ever met. You don't have to wait until your high school reunion to know they have just bought a house, got married on an island, got a great new job or won a million bucks.

You get to know one nano second at a time, how you rank vs. your 5000 closest friends.

Now that just takes keeping up with the Jones' to a whole new social networking level doesn’t it?

Peter's New Gig


Monday, 5 February 2007

Creative Ad Spaces

Peter sent me a link to the cool hunter. Has some great ads on there (thus the name cool hunter). My favorite are the ads that try to make different use of outdoor spaces. I have long thought that in a cluttered commodity market place innovation will beat an expensive media buy any day of the week. Adidas proves it here in spades with their bridge wrap in Germany. Now tell me if you could ignore that Ad while you were driving!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Digital Media Climbs The Corporate Ladder

One way to measure the increasing importance of digital media within client organizations is to look at the levels of individuals involved in the process over time.

In the early days, it seemed that being on the online team was tantamount to being sent to corporate Siberia. How many times clients used the term 'skunk works' 'under the radar' I can barely count. From irrelevant, invisible and then integral, many of those same people silently went about their day attempting to change the way their companies did business.

Well, in the closet no more. Over the past past few years we have seen the level of client involvement increasing with CMO's more often than not being somewhat involved with the digital media strategies that they ignored in the past.

Anecdotally talking to many of my friends and colleagues in the digital media biz, there seems to be a significant shift happening particularly in the past year.

The pitch process, which usually was a small affair at best, (involving a small client team that would then take their best picks 'up the ladder' behind the scenes) is no more. CEOs of fortune 500 companies are now part of the pitch committee and leading their organizations digital efforts.

All demonstrating that fact that digital media has finally come of age and has made it to the summit of the corporate ladder.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Things Are Going To Get Bigger

It occurs to me as I struggle to read a document in 12 point type that the whole notion that everything will continue to get smaller and smaller and that we are going to have our life on our cell phone is a crock. It’s propaganda of a young industry with 24 year olds shaping the technology future. Only problem?

I am going blind. Everyone I know is going blind. We have been staring at a screen for the past twenty years and regardless of what we might want, our bodies are going to tell us to take a flyer. A friend who works with the CNIB told me that the stats are staggering for the acceleration of blindness in adults over 40.

The 16 point font or larger generation
The blurry generation
Generation blind

It’s just a matter of time.

Exposing The Deep Web


"The deep web (or invisible web or hidden web) refers to World Wide Web content not part of the surface web indexed by search engines. Less commonly, the term deep web may represent deeper interaction."

The argument could be made that Technorati is a deep web search of sorts in the blog world and that could extend out to things like Eurekster the notion of social search as well.

From what I can gather, all the search engines that attempted to do this have failed. Anyone know of any still running? Would be fun to see the difference between a deep web search and a traditional google search.

Real Time Web Analytics